I’m sort of particular about how curry should taste, so I didn’t want to risk buying a curry paste at the store and not like it. Plus I really like making as many things at home and unprocessed as possible. This recipe makes a thick and rich yellow curry paste, and it packs a big umami punch. You can use it to make a traditional vegetable curry, or as a marinade to make satay on the grill. You can also use it as a stir fry sauce, or mix it with noodles. The best part is that it is full of healing herbs and spices. Turmeric for one, has been shown to have amazing anti-inflammatory benefits, and inhibits cancer cell growth. It helps with arthritis, liver function, lowers cholesterol, and protects against Alzheimer’s — that’s a lot of work for one little spice! I used this paste to make a delicious pumpkin curry (recipe below). The pumpkin is actually kabocha squash, which tastes a lot like sweet potato. I do love sweet potatoes, but kabocha has roughly half the calories and carbs per serving, which is a pretty big difference with swim suit season upon us! Kabocha also has great nutritional value, as it contains iron, calcium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.
Thai Yellow Curry Paste
Makes approx 1.5 cups
2 small bulbs garlic, cloves peeled
2 shallots, peeled and quartered
1” chunk ginger, peeled
1 tb coconut oil
4 dried peppers (arbol or thai)
1/2 cup cashews
2 dried apricots
1 stalk lemon grass, peeled and chopped
4 tb curry powder
1 tbs turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tbs chopped cilantro
1 tbs salt pink Himalayan salt
1 tbs coconut sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the garlic, shallot, and ginger on a square of foil, drizzle with oil, wrap up and bake for 30 min. Meanwhile, soak the dried peppers, cashews, and apricots in 1 cup of hot water for 20 minutes. After the garlic, shallot, and ginger have cooled enough to handle, put all ingredients in a food processor and puree to a thick paste. If the mixture seems too thick to blend properly, add a little of the pepper soaking liquid, 1 tbs at a time. You can keep it in the fridge for a week or two.
Quick note: If you live by a Trader Joe’s grocery store, they have something called dry Thai chili paste, it’s made out of mushrooms and peppers, and it’s really wierd and good. If you can get your hands on some, scoop a tablespoon of it into your curry paste before blending. If you can’t get it, don’t worry, this will still be delicious!
Yellow Pumpkin Curry
1 small Kabocha squash (also known as Japanese pumpkin, or you can sub two sweet potatoes)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cup yellow Thai curry paste
I can coconut cream
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp mild miso
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs chili garlic paste (find in the asian food section at the grocery store, I like the Huy Fong brand)
Two heads of baby bok choy
1 tbs salt, or to taste
8 sprigs of cilantro
4 cups cooked brown rice
The skin of a kabocha squash is edible (and yummy) so you are welcome to leave it on, but I like to peel the outermost rough part off, leaving a marbled green and orange surface. They are not that easy to peel. Scoop out the seeds and mushy flesh in the cavity. (Save the seeds if you like and roast them with some herbs, just like you would regular pumpkin seeds.) Dice the squash into bite sized pieces. Slice the carrots diagonally, and chop the bell pepper into bite sized pieces, set aside. Pull the bok choy leaves apart from the central stem.
In a large pot, heat the curry paste and coconut cream over medium flame for 1-2 minutes, until it’s blended and starts to get bubbly and fragrant. Pour in the vegetable broth and turn the heat to high. In a small bowl, mix the miso and soy sauce, this is your fish sauce replacement. Add that to the broth, along with the kabocha and carrots and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until the kabocha is fork tender. Add the bok choy leaves and cook for 1 more minute. Taste and adjust salt as necessary. Sometimes I throw in another tablespoon of coconut sugar.
Serve by putting one cup of brown rice in the bottom of each person’s bowl, and ladle the curry over it. Garnish with cilantro.